Jan 032014

By Linda Kor
Editor’s note: Part I of the annual Year In Review was published in the Jan. 1 edition of the newspaper.
Graduates from the Northland Pioneer College/Northeastern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Academy and the agencies in which they will serve included Chase Carlson, Snowflake-Taylor Police Department; Stratton Hatch, Holbrook Police Department; Alicia Lopez and Adam Reeves, Winslow Police Department; and Samuel Patrick and Nathanial Simonson, Navajo County Sheriff’s Office.
Aurora Solar, a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, was waiting to move forward with plans to build a solar power generation facility on 399 acres approximately three miles north of Snowflake until customers could be found to purchase that power.
State Senator Chester Crandell, R-Heber, expressed concerns regarding the loss of revenue on taxable lands bought by the federal government. He cited the purchase of the 4,200-acre McCauley Ranch by a conservation group that would be included as part of Petrified Forest National Park and how that expansion may complicate the development of potash mining in the area.
The City of Holbrook created a new code enforcement and safety department with department head Doyce Stuart, who would be in charge of two other full-time employees and would also get help from weed control specialist Julie Harrison.
The Winslow Unified School District Governing Board approved a $15.3 million proposed budget that included a 12.9 percent increase to federal projects and a 26.1 percent increase to Proposition 301 classroom site funds.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ work plans for fiscal year 2013 included $499,000 in federal appropriations for the Winslow Levee Study. This most recent federal funding allowed the next phase of the feasibility study to continue.
Natural Herbal Remedies, a medical marijuana dispensary, opened up shop in the old Pow Wow Trading Post building in Holbrook. The dispensary serves individuals who have already obtained a medical marijuana card from their physician.
In a report entitled, Review of Helium Production and Potential in Arizona, Arizona Oil & Gas Administrator Steve Rauzi wrote, “Some of the richest helium-bearing gas in the world was produced from fields completed specifically for helium in northeastern Arizona in the 1960s and 1970s.” It was noted that with the development of potash mining in the Holbrook Basin, the recovery of helium from the basin would add even greater value to the area and provide a much needed resource to the Federal Helium Reserve.
Navajo County Manager James Jayne was selected as the recipient of the Gabe Zimmerman Public Service Award for Innovation. He was noted as a manager with a “persistent determination to improve,” and an approach based upon building lasting relationships, motivating people to best utilize their talents and continuously looking for new paths to success.
Winslow Hall of Fame football coach Emil Nasser was honored at the Flagstaff Sports Foundation 2013 Hall of Fame Banquet. Nasser is a legendary coach who not only coached football, but also track and baseball at Winslow High School. He served many years as an official of football and basketball, and was an Arizona Athletic Association commissioner.
Prospect Global Resources Inc. announced the completion of a pre-feasibility study for the company’s potash project in the Holbrook Basin. The study indicated a 1.42 million tons per year operation, based on average production from years six through 10; an $825 million estimated capital cost; $1.4 billion net present value at an eight percent discount rate; and an initial mine life of 26 years. The estimates confirmed that the Holbrook project has the potential to become a high quality, long-life, conventional potash mine with robust economics.
Lack of funding for the nation’s largest forest restoration effort delayed plans to clear 300,000 acres across four northern Arizona forests. The U.S. Forest Service announced that it may approve the transfer of the contract to another company to conduct thinning on almost two million acres in northern Arizona due to failure of Pioneer Forest Products to acquire funding for its operation.
Construction of a new 9,300-sq. ft. building that would house new medical, kitchen and laundry areas adjacent to the current Navajo County Jail in Holbrook was underway. Phase 1 also included the construction of a new medical facility that would house up to 12 patients with a separate room for inmates with communicable diseases and allow for easier ambulance access. The new facility will also have a doctor’s office and dental office that will allow physicians to see patients at the jail, rather than transport inmate patients to outside facilities.
A familiar face returned to the Navajo County Fair Board. J.R. DeSpain, one of the original founding members of the fair board, was chosen to fill a vacancy on the board. Serving on the board has become a family tradition as DeSpain’s son Rusty DeSpain and daughter Redgie Justman also serve on the board.
The Holbrook City Council approved a $9.1 million budget and a primary property tax rate of 27.89 cents per $100 of assessed value, which would bring a total income from property taxes to approximately $52,238 for the coming year.
The City of Holbrook received a $122,516.30 grant for Petroglyph Park from Arizona State Parks and the Federal Highway Administration under the Recreational Trails Program. Assistant City Manager Randy Sullivan said the federal monies in the grant total $99,814.80. The difference of $18,701.50 will come from the city through matching in-kind work on the project.
Navajo County Treasurer Manny Hernandez told the Board of Supervisors his office was originally set to collect $85.2 million in taxes, but after applying corrections and orders from the board that totaled $52,778, the amount to be collected dropped. He noted that as of the end of the fiscal year, June 30, his office had collected just over $82 million, leaving slightly more than $3 million in unpaid taxes to be collected.
The Arizona Department of Education unveiled report cards for area schools showing that Holbrook High School received a B; Holbrook Junior High School, a C; Hulet Elementary School, an A; Park Elementary School, an A; and Indian Wells Elementary School, a C. Joseph City High School received an A; Joseph City Junior High School, a B; and Joseph City Elementary School a B. Winslow High School received a C; Winslow Junior High School, a D; and Washington, Jefferson and Bonnie Brennan elementary schools, Bs.
Winslow was seeing revitalization in the historic district with the opening of Los Maria’s, serving authentic Mexican food; shops including Arizona Indian Art, Arizona 66 Trading Company and Kenna’s Corner; and two Native American galleries, Akoshilláa Sheila! and Arizona Indian Art.
Anthony Barela took first place in his age category in the Professional Disc Golf Association’s Amateur and Junior Disk World Championship. The 13-year-old is the son of Jason Barela and Trina Lettig, both of Mesa, and the grandson of Severo Barela and Lila Barela, both of Holbrook.
The Navajo County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Apprehension Team (MCAT) was honored by the Southwest Border High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Board for outstanding interdiction efforts within the State of Arizona. During fiscal year 2012, MCAT confiscated 2,356 lbs. of marijuana with a street value of $1,342,565; 13,795 grams of methamphetamine, $1,364,357; 2,756 grams of heroin, $219,886; 920 grams of cocaine, $92,000; 5,507 grams of PCP, $550,700; and 7,690 d/units of prescription drugs, $15,284; for a total of $2,374,792. A total of 483 suspects were arrested.
The Winslow City Council set the property tax levy to raise a total of $342,334 with an assessment of $1.1934 per $100 in assessed valuation. This was an increase over last year’s rate of 98.80 cents per $100. The ordinance setting the tax rate was passed on an emergency basis.
Three northern Arizona community colleges entered into an unprecedented agreement to improve workforce development among populations living along rural stretches of the Interstate 40 corridor. Northland Pioneer, Coconino and Mohave community colleges entered into an intergovernmental agreement to create the I-40 Corridor Coordinating Council. The council will provide a cooperative higher education network for residents living along the more than 300-mile interstate that travels through Arizona’s four most northern counties: Mohave, Coconino, Navajo and Apache.
Ed Seal became the new power plant manager at the Arizona Public Service Co. Cholla Power Plant in Joseph City. The Pennsylvania native came to the job after retiring the Navy with 30 years of service.
Members of the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors nominated and approved the executive committee consisting of the same members currently in those positions, including President Yvonne Larson, First Vice President/Business and Chamber Development Steve Gallegos, Second Vice President/Community Events Cindy Tafoya, Treasurer Larry Hager and Secretary Kristi Hillibert.
Members of the Winslow Unified School District Governing Board approved the retirement of Superintendent Doug Watson, effective June 30, 2014. Watson began work 33 years ago in the 1981-82 school year at Winslow High School as a science teacher and became superintendent during the 2009-10 school year.
The 11th annual Legislative Report Card published by the Goldwater Institute, a conservative advocacy and research organization based in Phoenix, showed that lawmakers representing District 6, which includes Holbrook, Joseph City, Snowflake and Taylor, did fairly well, with Senator Chester Crandell receiving a B+, while Representatives Brenda Barton and Bob Thorpe received Bs. All three are Republicans. Lawmakers in District 7, which includes Winslow, as well as the Navajo, Hopi and White Mountain Apache reservations, did not fare so well. Senator Albert Hale received a D grade, while Representative Jamescita Peslakai, a freshman lawmaker, received an F+, as did Representative Jack Jackson. All three are Democrats.
Good Earth Power, a company based in the Sultanate of Oman, purchased the assets of Pioneer Forest Products. Along with the purchase of the company, the Forest Service announced the transfer of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) thinning contract from Pioneer to Good Earth. The 4FRI contract was originally awarded to Pioneer Forest Products in May 2012 for thinning work on the Apache-Sitgreaves, Tonto, Kaibab and Coconino national forests.
Native American Outreach Ministries Inc. (NAOMI) House expanded its facilities with the purchase of a 120-acre ranch near Navajo. This site, in addition to the facility near Joseph City, allowed for 24 emergency and 12 foster care housing situations altogether.
The Arizona Corporation Commission voted to end its deregulation discussions aimed at opening the state’s electrical supply market to competition. Members of the commission, however, said they may still look into other related issues, including technological advances in the delivery of electrical power.
In what was likely a once in a lifetime opportunity, the legendary Jackson Browne performed La Posada in Winslow along with an eclectic mix of artists and performers as part of the Station To Station nomadic experience. Browne stood before an audience of approximately 200 performing his latest songs, as well as classics such as Running On Empty and Take It Easy.
It was a neck and neck race, but the Joseph City VOCE Choir came out ahead to win an opportunity to sing with the rock group Foreigner when they performed at the Cliff Castle Casino in Camp Verde. The group competed against the Flagstaff High School Choraliers in a video contest offered through a Flagstaff radio station in which votes could be cast online. The lead went back and forth, but Joseph City leapt ahead during the final hours of the competition, winning over Flagstaff 2,365 to 2,184.
Alizia Foster and Shem Bowman reigned as Holbrook High School’s Homecoming Queen and King. The Senior Homecoming Court included Nikko Ferniza, Cierra Shumway, Shem Bowman, Isabella Duran, Kevin Self, Alaya Darling, Coy Begay and Alizia Foster. Selected as princes and princesses were juniors Christian Pierce and Harlee Sanchez, sophomores Quanyyah Lester and Nathon Johnson, and freshmen Elliot Pete and Samantha Serna.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals turned down a request by four utility companies and the State of Arizona seeking to delay installing the Environmental
Protection Agency’s (EPA) mandated pollution controls at the Cholla, Coronado and Apache coal-fired power plants. The court’s decision denied the request by the state and power companies to be allowed to wait until litigation over the EPA’s regional haze requirements is complete before installing the expensive controls.
The federal government’s inability to come to an agreement on the budget meant the closure of national parks throughout the country. That shutdown included the Petrified Forest National Park, putting 48 workers on furlough.
Lance Heister, assistant superintendent of the Winslow Unified School District, was selected to move up to the district’s top spot. Heister has a career of 27 years in the educational field, including four years as the district’s assistant superintendent. He obtained his superintendent certification in 2007.
Joseph City High School crowned Robert Downs and Madison Fields as Homecoming king and queen. Brooke Baldwin, Cody Davis, Jewel Plower and Wyatt Johnson were chosen as senior attendants. Selected as princes and princesses were juniors Landen Baldwin and Katelyn Pugh, sophomores Kadin Crosby and Allison Bushman, and freshmen Troy Poudrier and Sarah Layden.
Linda Thompson, director of The Naomi House in Joseph City, accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award during the 24th Northland Pioneer College Early Childhood Fair in Snowflake. Thompson started working with Native American children in the fall of 1985, and started the Native American Outreach Ministries, Inc. in 1993. A staff of seven now serves 31 children, most of whom have been victims of child molestation.
Winslow High School crowned its homecoming royalty, including King James Martinez and Queen Tia Chandler. They reigned over the Bulldogs’ 52-0 win over Ganado’s Hornets in the Homecoming football contest.
“We are open,” said Petrified Forest National Park Superintendent Brad Traver. “We’re all back to work and we’re happy about it.” Traver said it would be business as usual at the park following a 16-day closure because of the U.S. government shutdown.
Arizona received a refund of some of the money it sent to reopen the Grand Canyon during the recent partial government shutdown. The $186,000 in refunded money was not used to run the park during the budget shutdown. During the shutdown, the state paid the National Park Service $651,000 to keep Grand Canyon National Park open for one week and Governor Jan Brewer said she would send more money from the state tourism budget, if needed. The $651,000 was enough to keep the popular tourist destination open for a week. Fortunately, federal lawmakers reached an agreement on the budget before those seven days were up. The returned funds were divided between the state tourism office and the town of Tusayan, which had contributed $200,000 toward the effort to keep the park open.
Holbrook senior Edmund Jodie jumped from 25th place to eighth at the Region One State Chess Individual Qualifier to qualify for the state tournament. Sophomore Tylor Lii’bilNaghahi, who is in his first year on the Holbrook High School team, won 12th place and qualified as an alternate for state.
A law that has been a tool for local law enforcement in clearing out indigents from alleyways and other public areas has been struck from the books. A federal judge ruled that Arizona’s law making it a crime to beg or panhandle in public places is unconstitutional. The ruling was based on a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona against the City of Flagstaff after it was discovered that a 77-year-old Hopi woman was taken into custody for asking an undercover Flagstaff law enforcement officer for $1.25 for bus fare. The judge ruled that the law, which states that a person commits loitering if such person intentionally is present in a public place to beg unless specifically authorized by law, is a violation of the right to free speech.
Former U.S. Congressman Rick Renzi, who served this district for two years, was sentenced Oct. 28 by Senior U.S. District Judge David C. Bury to serve 36 months in prison following his June conviction by a federal jury in Tucson for extortion, bribery, insurance fraud, money laundering and racketeering. Renzi’s co-defendant, James Sandlin, was to serve 18 months in prison for his role in the extortion, bribery and money laundering scheme.
Arizona Diamondbacks Chief Financial Officer Tom Harris was one of eight Arizona CFOs honored at the Phoenix Business Journal’s Most Outstanding CFOs luncheon. On Nov. 6, he was named CFO of the Year by Financial Executives International Arizona Chapter. Harris, a Winslow native and 1981 graduate of Winslow High School, has been with the D-backs for 19 years, and serves as the executive vice president and CFO, overseeing all general accounting, finance, stadium operations, risk management and administrative activities, and ensuring operations are in accordance with ownership goals and objectives.
Holbrook High School freshman Skyler Gishie and senior Devin Nez took home the top prize in the team roping competition held at the Arizona State Fair. The boys took first place after competing against 58 other teams.
Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a family tradition which honors departed loved ones in a festival setting, was held Nov. 2 at Snowdrift Art Space Winslow.
Voters in the Holbrook Unified School District passed the budget override by a narrow margin, with 419 votes in favor of it and 371 against it, according to unofficial results. The district is now authorized to increase its maintenance and operations budget by $427,353.
Voters in the Joseph City Unified School District also approved their budget override, with 180 votes in support of the override and 77 against it. This will bring an additional $360,000 to the district, allowing officials to maintain staffing and other key functions of the district.
Petrified Forest National Park is among the parks listed in a report detailing the deferred maintenance backlog in the National Park System. In the 208-page report compiled by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Coburn states there is an $11.5 billion deferred maintenance backlog in the National Park System, a fact which he blamed on Congress not appropriating enough money to maintain the current parks, while it continues to add parks to the system. The report estimates $52.5 million would be the cost to complete needed work at Petrified Forest.
A charging station for Tesla electric cars is due to be built on Navajo Blvd. in Holbrook. According to the company website, a series of Tesla Superchargers are being built that will allow Tesla Model S owners “to travel for free between cities along well-traveled highways in North America and Europe.” The site goes on to say the Superchargers “provide half a charge in about 20 minutes and are strategically placed to allow owners to drive from station to station with minimal stops.” Tesla reportedly planned to make coast-to-coast travel possible by the winter of 2013.
The Winslow City Council adopted a contract for city manager candidate Stephen Pauken, contingent on his acceptance of the offer. The contract listed a base salary of $120,000 per year with a onetime moving expense compensation of not more than $5,000. At the time, Pauken was the city manager of Bisbee, and had held that position for some eight years.
Gabrielle Stacey, a former star athlete at Winslow High School, was selected to play for the University of New Mexico Lobos softball team in the infielder/utility position. Stacey, a 2011 graduate of WHS, has already played two seasons at the College of Southern Idaho, helping that team earn Scenic West Conference Region Runner-Up in 2012, and become conference champion in 2013.
An exploration into the distant past of the Triassic period began at Petrified Forest National Park, according to Chief of Interpretation Richard Ullmann. The $970,000 scientific core-drilling project, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program, started Nov. 7 with the goal of providing a better record and understanding of the Triassic Era. The project, a follow-up to an early-1990s project in which a Triassic core was drilled from New Jersey’s Newark sediment, was years in the making.
Winslow High School celebrated Native American Week, crowning Katonya Begay as Miss Winslow Native American. The Indian Education Committee held the Native American Festival, and the WHS Tribe Of Many Feathers Club hosted the pageant.
Bonnie Brennan Elementary School Principal Peggy Elrod resigned her post with the Winslow school, effective Nov. 21.
The official groundbreaking was held for the new $5 million Navajo County Public Works Complex in Holbrook. Among those on hand for the event were architect Tim Whiteside, Tom Wells and Fritz Behrhorst of Haydon Building Corporation, contractor for the project, and County Supervisors Dawnafe Whitesinger, Jesse Thompson, Jonathan Nez, Sylvia Allen and David Tenney.
Joseph City Junior/Senior High School Principal Bryan Fields was slated to become the school district’s superintendent, though he would continue his duties as principal. Superintendent Robert Klein’s last day with the district was to be Nov. 22. Fields’ salary in the combined position was set at $43,225 for the remainder of this fiscal year.
Randi Ann Rima was crowned as the 2013-14 Navajo County Rodeo Queen by the Navajo County Board of Supervisors.
Newly inducted members of the National Honor Society at Holbrook High School included James Sumpter, Kylah Spangler, Demitria Phaturos, Monica Liddle, Kelly Lee, Shelby Kinlichee, Theron Johns, Kaitlyn Benally, Aarick Yazzie, Cydney Walters, Jayne Sandoval, Andon Hatch, Ariel John, Nikko Ferniza and Shem Bowman.
The Winslow High FFA (Future Farmers of America) hosted the most widely attended Fall Leadership Conference of the Northern District. Students who attended represented Chinle, Ganado, Many Farms, Monument Valley, Payson, Piñon, Round Valley, Snowflake, Valley, Winslow and Young high schools. Winslow FFA President Jace Hardy opened the conference. Matthew Payne of the Winslow FFA chapter was awarded third place individual in the wildlife contest, and WHS qualified its Wildlife and Veterinary Science teams for state competition.
The transfer of Troy McReynolds from district data specialist to principal at Bonnie Brennan Elementary School, effective immediately, was approved Nov. 20 by the Winslow Unified School District Governing Board.
According to the Farmers’ Almanac, Winslow is one of the top 10 cities in the nation for its weather. Ranked at No. 7, the city was selected for its temperatures, sky conditions, precipitation, humidity and wind. Two other Arizona cities made the list, including Yuma in the number one spot and Phoenix in third. Two cities in Nevada made the list, with Las Vegas taking second and Reno, fifth. El Paso, Texas, took fourth, Albuquerque, N.M., sixth, and three cities in California made the list, including Bishop at eighth, Bakersfield, ninth, and San Diego, 10th. It was noted that the reasons Winslow did so well in the final decision making was because it is the seventh least humid city, at 46 percent, and eighth driest with annual precipitation totaling only 7.64 inches.
Elizabeth Parker, a fourth grade student at Hulet Elementary School in Holbrook, won second place for her age group in the Arizona State University 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Contest. Her entry was chosen from among 1,100 student entries from across the state. The entry was composed around the theme, UNITE: Beyond the Divide. Elizabeth and her family have been invited to attend the 29th annual ASU Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast scheduled in January in Phoenix.
Winslow High School brought home two Winter Trophy state championship awards from the Forensic League of Arizona Winter Trophy held in Phoenix. Preston Greenwood was the champion in prose and Luke McCauley was the tournament champion in humor.
Full tuition waivers to Arizona’s three public universities were to be awarded to nine Northland Pioneer College students to complete their bachelor’s degrees as nominees to the All-Arizona, All-USA Academic Team program. Those representing NPC include Christina Scott-Ford of the Holbrook-Painted Desert Campus, Stephanie Adams and Kyle Nowell of the Snowflake/Taylor-Silver Creek Campus, and Sterling West of the Winslow-Little Colorado Campus.
The Holbrook City Council renewed contracts with City Manager Ray Alley and Police Chief Mark Jackson, and approved an amendment to each. The council added an amendment to Alley’s contract noting that he is allowed to purchase no more than 80 gallons of fuel per month for the personal vehicle he uses for city business. The council also approved a third week of paid vacation for Jackson.
Hulet Elementary School in Holbrook earned the 2013 National Center for Education Achievement Higher Performing School Award in the area of reading for the second year in a row.
Navajo County Governmental Affairs Director Hunter Moore was selected to serve as executive director of the Real AZ Corridor.
Kiley Reidhead of Holbrook and Gordon L. Nikolaus Jr. of Snowflake were celebrating after taking home the big prize as winners of the XIII World Series of Team Roping (WSTR) Cactus Saddlery in Las Vegas, Nev. The ropers took home a $230,000 purse for their hard work. They competed against 450 other teams before making it into the finals.
Holbrook Fuel Up to Play 60 Ambassadors Ellie Smith, Cole McDaniel and Griffin Lamb, State Ambassador Kobi Koerperich and program advisor Stephanie Peters attended an Arizona Cardinals game. The four Holbrook Junior High School students were among 10 ambassadors from around the state who led the Cardinals onto the field to face the St. Louis Rams.
The Thunder Dawgs of Bonnie Brennan Elementary School in Winslow took first place in the First Lego League regional competition, which drew 18 teams. The team includes Ian Rundquist, Bryson Evans, Shaunoa McKenzie, Trinity Cox, Jacob Coolidge, Madison Estrada and their coach, Steve Brodt.